X-Factor #243 Review
Written by Peter David
Pencils by Leonard Kirk
Inks by Jay Leistein
Colors by Matt Milla
Review by Joey Braccino
Day 3! The “Breaking Points” story arc continues! This week, it’s Polaris who experiences a life-altering… experience… thus putting her continued sanity/involvement in X-Factor Investigations into question! Of course, the question is answered in the letter column in the back (SPOILERS: she’s sticking around, despite the events of the book). Peter David is one of best storytellers in the business, so I’m sure the developments in this issue will play some role in coming storyarcs, but I was still left scratching my head as to why this Polaris-centric story was necessary in the first place.
Lorna “Polaris” Dane was one of the first new x-men way back in the ‘60s. Along with Alex “Havok” Summers, Lorna joined up with the crew and has been an off-and-on presence for the X-Universe’s entire history. One of the questions surrounding Lorna’s character used to be her parentage; her magnetic powers are/were uncannily similar to a certain mutant supervillain. Various writers have declared one side or the other, but recent years have established that yes, Magneto is Polaris’ actual father. Apparently, there was also a question as to whether Magneto had killed her mother and step-father in a fit of jealousy. I say apparently, because that particular plot thread is at the core of X-Factor #243, so if that doesn’t seem like an interesting story, then you probably won’t be interested in this issue.
The entirety of the action centers around a chance moment in which Longshot (heh, chance) picks up one of Lorna’s mother’s photos recovered from the plane wreck that killed her. Given Longshot’s powers, he is able to get a psychic trace off the card, uncovering the truth of the plane accident. The rest of the issue sees Lorna using her powers to coerce Longshot, Monet, et al. to tell her the truth. What Lorna learns is powerful and will definitely have ramifications for her character, but very little else happens in this issue. Yes, David imbues it with his trademark characterization and wit, but it lacks his deft juggling of a large ensemble cast. They butt heads and argue, but the larger conflict isn’t apparent. Frankly, Polaris and Havok have only been members of the team for about 10 issues or so, and neither has really gotten enough time on-panel to elicit any emotional resonance from the reader, despite the hugeness of the revelation. Overall this issue is underwhelming given the last half-dozen or so character-centric stories (remember “Run, Layla, Run?”).
Leonard Kirk’s artwork is typically a welcome sight on the pages of X-Factor, but the slow-pace and tight focus puts a handicap on Kirk’s biggest strength: his kinetic style. The movement of the issue is limited to two or three rooms (and the roof) of X-Factor headquarters, and there isn’t the type of superheroic action that speaks to Kirk’s style. There are also some bizarre facial designs (especially on Havok) that seem to suggest Kirk was rushed to meet a deadline on this book.
For the first time ever, I can’t say that this issue of X-Factor is an absolute must-read. Polaris fans and long-term X-Factor fans will probably find something to enjoy in this issue, but it’s far too narrow to engage casual or new readers. Definitely get the next one, because it’s still the best series on the stands, but putting the focus on a heretofore unexplored secondary character doesn’t really work out for issue #243.